I own more guayaberas than a pasty white guy from Upstate New York should admit. Found widely throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, the lightweight button-down shirt is not merely about comfort. It’s an extremely versatile shirt that is worn both formally and casually. In Mexico, they are often worn to weddings by grooms and guests. Throughout south Florida, Cuba and much of the Caribbean, worn just about anywhere.
For me, the guayabera is not a fashion statement or a tribute to my nonexistent Cuban roots. They are a warm-weather alternative to the polo shirt; an option for those few months in my world when its not snowing and I need to wear something nicer than whatever brewery t-shirt is on top of the pile in the clothes basket.
Not unlike the guayabera, pale ales are one of the most versatile beer styles on the market. Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing pays homage this by naming one of its pale ales after it after the all-encompassing garment. The Guayabera Citra Pale Ale is one of the heralded brewery’s year-round offerings, many of which don Floridian-inspired names—Jai Alai IPA, Maduro brown ale and Tocobaga imperial red ale.
On its merits, Guayabera is a very good pale ale. With some tweaks, it could be an exceptional one.”
Pour it hard from the can for a fluffy, foamy head. It dissipates and leaves a lacing around the edge of the glass. Guayabera is amber-to-golden with some opaque haziness, not unlike the brewery’s flagship Jai Alai IPA. That is pretty much the only thing the two beers share.
The Citra hops are immediately noticeable when pouring, bursting forth with aromas of mango and guava, and the flavor follows the nose. Tropical fruits dominate with undertones of grapefruit and candied orange. As the beer warms in your hand, the bitterness intensifies, but it’s an easy-drinker that may not last long enough to come to temperature. The malt bill adds sweetness and balance. It has a chewy feel, as if you had some of the flesh from the fruits in your mouth.
The one thing Guayabera lacks is carbonation. Some action in this beer would make it brighter and sparkly, livening up an otherwise above-average beer. The crisp, refreshing tropical flavors lend themselves to summertime drinking, but the heavier body is a bit of a turnoff for porch or pool drinking.
On its merits, Guayabera is a very good pale ale. With some tweaks, it could be an exceptional one.